March 13th, 2014

briar

The Bridges of Madison County


Not finding the way into this...well, let's start with some good things. Kelli O'Hara!!! Using an unexpected part of her voice, with a mezzoish quality I wouldn't have guessed she had. And Steven Pasquale, beefy and hairy and not complaining that Kelli's music is way better. And the setting is nicely done, just a wide open space, fragments of sets brought in and struck by the ensemble in a stylized furniture ballet—director Bartlett Sher with his frequent collaborators Michael Yeargan, Catherine Zuber and Donald Holder, with really terrific sound by Jon Weston. And Jason Robert Brown's score that's really a score, a whole piece even as it makes some window detours and encompasses a broad range of styles it always finds a way back into itself.

I'm a little dubious about seeing so much of Francesca's family, but I see their dramatic purpose—the show isn't just about the moment, but about the dilemma it presents Francesca and why she ultimately makes the choice she does. And yet I think the show could end with the choosing, rather than going on to a big WTF number and then a long, manipulative results finale. I don't remember how much of either of those things is in the book (I don't remember much of the book at all), but invented for the stage or not, I thought them a bit much.

It's not quite a you-should-go, but there's a lot more good than bad and a lot of the good is quite good. Certainly Kelli's superb performance is well worth seeing. And the theatre had a very nice renovation while it was dark.